By Rev. Monica Lewis, Minister to Children, Students and Families

Until I met my husband I had never been shopping on Black Friday. My family still lives in a small town so when I was home for Thanksgiving there weren’t really many opportunities to do so. My husband is also from a small town—his in eastern Kentucky.

The first time I went home with him for Thanksgiving I joined his stepmom in the madness of it. On Thanksgiving night we drove two hours, on winding roads, to the closest town with a Walmart Supercenter and then spent hours sitting on the floor of Walmart waiting on them to take down the ropes so we could buy $4 crockpots and things of that nature. I still remember how nauseous I was when 6:00 a.m. rolled around from not sleeping. It. Was. Miserable. But somehow, even after that misery, I’ve managed to think I need to shop on Black Friday each year since then; the only difference now is that I don’t have to drive two hours to get to a store, I will not sit on a floor or wait in line, and I try with all my might to avoid Walmart and the reminder of the trauma of that first year.

This week I saw Glennon Doyle Melton’s Instagram post about the gift guide that she publishes every year. All of the gifts suggested help to promote and do good in the world. Her family has a holiday rule that all of their shopping is done by the first week in December so that they can spend the month “in peace, together, making memories instead of trips to the mall.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I’m going to try that.

I’m giving myself this week to finish up my holiday gift buying. I’m going to embrace her family’s practice in hopes of doing the smallest bit of justice to the feeling of expectation Advent brings. Like Glennon I want to “spend the holidays focused on what we HAVE instead of what we WANT. And that, my friends, is the key to joy.”
I realize that I’m a product of my consumeristic culture. I know that I’m not going to stop buying presents at Christmastime—at least not yet. I love to give gifts and I support organizations that help out those who are less fortunate in hopes that they’ll have a better Christmas. But what I CAN do is stop, take a breath, look around me, and take inventory of all the good that I already HAVE. Will you join me in doing the same?


For more “good doing” shopping, visit our bookstore, The Well. All proceeds from it benefit Week of Compassion.